Skip to content

"Obama Effect": increased diversity in global politics?

“Prejudice in Europe is more than skin deep”, writes Columbia University historian Mark Mazower in the Financial Times:
Europeans find it hard adjusting to a colour-blind world. Indeed their hesitancy is growing. In Austria, the extreme right carved out big gains in September’s general elections. Pope Benedict weighed in over the summer to warn against a possible resurgence of fascist values in Italy. Europe as a whole, according to recent polls, has become significantly more xenophobic over the past few years. Fears of Islamic terrorism and anxiety about globalisation have fed this trend. So has fervent anti-European Union sentiment, strongly correlated to populist anti-immigrant rhetoric. By contrast, Mr Obama’s story is that of the immigrant dream, a tale of upwardly-mobile success that cut decisively across race lines. Immigrant voters played a decisive electoral role in Mr Obama’s win, yet immigration – for all the prior public debate – figured little as a campaign issue.
It will be interesting to see if a black president in America will reverse the trend of rising xenophobia in Europe cited by Mazower.  Al Jazeera also poses an interesting question, "Will the 'Obama effect' encourage more diversity in global politics?"

See also from Atlantic Review:
* Five Reasons Obama Would not be Elected in Europe

Pat Buchanan on Rising Nationalism in the United States

Not only President Bush, but the entire Washington establishment has sustained a major humiliation, when the immigration bill was defeated, writes Pat Buchanan in RealClearPolitics. Our loyal reader Don recommends this article: "Admittedly Buchanan is a bit of a fruitcake - but even fruitcakes can be right once in a while." Here's a quote:
Eighteen months before Bush departs, it is clear that his open-borders, free-trade globalism is no longer unchallenged dogma in the GOP. Three of every four Senate Republicans rejected amnesty. And fast track, by which Congress surrenders its right to amend Bush trade bills, expired Saturday. The Doha Round of global trade negotiations is as dead as the immigration bill.
If there is a rising sentiment in America today, it is nationalism. Americans are growing weary of seeing their sons die in wars to bring democracy to people who do not seem all that appreciative. They are tired of reading of factories going to China and jobs going to India, while illegal aliens march in their cities under foreign flags to demand their "civil rights." They are tired of reading about new billionaires as their wages fail to rise to compensate for soaring gas prices and the falling value of their homes. The establishment is losing the trust of the people, who are coming to believe that establishment is looking out for its own interests, not theirs -- and the two are no longer the same.
This was Pat Buchanan. Now over to you. Has the "national mood" changed on the above issues fundamentally in the last two years? Do you see any tectonic shifts in US politics? Mainly positive or negative changes?
To quote Carl Schurz, who was a German revolutionary, American statesman, and Union Army general in the American Civil War: "My country is the great American Republic. My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right."
In this sense: Happy Independence Day!


The Economist's Lexington writes about Anti-Europeanism in the United States, which is an interesting topic. Unfortunately he does not add much to the debate, but covers the same "Eurabia" examples that have been criticized many times before: America's anti-Europeans believe that "Europe is committing demographic and economic suicide" because of the birthrate and economic regulations.  Besides, Europe is seen as "a post-Christian society" and "Muslims are filling Europe's demographic and spiritual void." Yawn.
Lexington concludes: "Curing global anti-Americanism primarily means repairing America's relations with the rest of the world; but it also means uprooting the anti-European weeds that have flourished in America in the past few years."

Transatlantic Foreign Policy Attitudes and Threat Perceptions

The graphic below is from Transatlantic Trends Survey of the German Marshall Fund of the United States. The perception of various threats does not seem to be very different in the United States and Europe.  Certainly the differences are not so big to suggest that Europeans and Americans do not share many common interests anymore, as more and more bloggers claim these days.


Transatlantic Trends: Key Findings (pdf) and Narrated Slide Presentation.

The German weekly Die Zeit summarizes the findings as well.

Prof. Drezner of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University discusses the assumption of American exceptionalism in his book review "Mind the Gap" for the The National Interest. The first book is Andrew Kohut and Bruce Stokes' America Against the World (,, which "compares and contrasts the attitudes of Americans and other nationalities, relying primarily on the Pew Global Attitudes project. The second is Benjamin Page and Marshall Bouton's The Foreign Policy Disconnect (,, which compares and contrasts the attitudes of Americans and foreign policymaking elites." The book review in The National Interest is available for free, but Dr. Drezner also has an excerpt on his blog "Taking exception to American exceptionalism?": 
In detailing the patterns and gaps between the American public and others, these books nicely complement and occasionally contradict each other. Both The Foreign Policy Disconnect and America Against the World will add grist to the mill for those who profess faith in the wisdom of crowds and doubts about the judgment of foreign policy experts. After cogitating on both books, it would be difficult for the informed reader to believe that Americans hold irrational or flighty views about foreign policy. Most Americans, on most issues, articulate what George W. Bush characterized as a "humble" foreign policy during the 2000 campaign. They want a prudent foreign policy based on security against attacks and threats to domestic well-being—though American attitudes about multilateralism remain an open question. The gaps between American attitudes and the rest of the world are overstated; the gaps between Americans and their policymakers might be understated. The biggest question—which neither of these books answers satisfactorily—is to what extent these views, and gaps between views, matter.
Emphasis in bold added, because I think this is important for the frequent debates about transatlantic disagreements.

Related: Prof. Drezner December 2006 article in the Washington Post: "The Grandest Strategy Of Them All."


Financial Times: "US Prophets of Europe's Doom are Half Wrong"

"Europeans of a nervous disposition should probably avoid going into bookshops on their next visit to the US. If they venture inside, they will come across an array of titles with a blood-curdlingly bleak view of their continent’s future." writes Gideon Rachman:
In Bruce Bawer’s While Europe Slept (, -- now into its eighth printing -- the American reader is told that by ignoring the threat from radical Islam: "Europe is steadily committing suicide and perhaps all we can do is look on in horror." Tony Blankley, author of The West's Last Chance (,, warns that: "The threat of the radical Islamists taking over Europe is every bit as great to the United States as was the threat of the Nazis taking over Europe in the 1940s." In The Cube and the Cathedral (,, George Weigel, a Catholic conservative, claims that "western Europe is committing a form of demographic suicide". In this he echoes Pat Buchanan, who argued in his best-selling The Death of the West (, that Europe's population is set to fall to 30 per cent of its current level by 2100, meaning that "the cradle of western civilisation will have become its grave".
Rachman opines:
I suspect that few Europeans would recognise themselves in this distorting mirror held up from the other side of the Atlantic. And yet -- tempting as it was to toss all these books into the bin and go out for a drink in the midst of my doomed civilisation (one might as well enjoy what little time is left) -- it is impossible completely to dismiss the American prophets of European doom. Strip away the hysteria and the hype and they make two serious points.
He describes these points as rising Muslim populations and low fertility rates, but also points out:
Similarly, the American vision of a Muslim takeover of Europe -- creating a new continent called "Eurabia" -- relies on projecting demographic trends to their limit and beyond. Weigel fantasises about a day when "the muezzin summons the faithful to prayer from the central loggia of St Peter's in Rome". Given that just 1.7 per cent of the Italian population is currently Muslim, that seems a long way off. Of the 456m people of the EU, just 15m to 16m are Muslim.
"The American vision"? Surely, most Americans do not share these opinions...? The Financial Times provides his entire review article.
Endnote: Davids Medienkritik approvingly quotes more Islamophobia, but also thankfully presents Dr. Gedmin's great column "If I were Muslim, I'd be offended by the Pope's speech".
Related: Too Much Cookies (German Blog) analyses the Mozart opera controversy. English summary in Dialog International.

Praise for President Bush in German Paper

In his column "America, you do it better" about the immigration debate, the Washington D.C. correspondent of the Financial Times Deutschland describes President Bush's immigration policy as even more courageous than the German Green party's position:
Doch wo in Europa rechte wie linke Regierungen fast unisono Missmut über Spaniens Masseneinbürgerungen äußerten, findet die Legalisierung Illegaler in den USA auch im rechten Lager mächtige Fürsprecher - vorneweg den Präsidenten, einen Rechten, der in der Einwanderungspolitik einen Kurs fährt, der in Deutschland selbst manch Grünem zu mutig wäre.
Thomas Klau compares German and American attitudes to immigration and concludes that Germany can learn a lot from the US how to successfully integrate immigrants. His column in German, translation by Google, via Apocalypso.
The German media is frequently accused of Anti-American bias, which is often correct. However, all articles concerning the integration of immigrants that I have read have been praising the U.S. criticizing the German track record.

Fareed Zakaria: America should not adopt Germany's immigration policies [UPDATE]

In light of the intensive debate about new laws against illegal immigration in the U.S., Wash Post Columnist Fareed Zakaria is concerned that Americans favor European immigration policies, which would result in less integration and less security. He gives the example of Germany's failed "Green Card" initiative to attract Indian computer specialists without giving them the prospect of becoming German citizens, unlike the U.S. Green Card system. The U.S. should not adopt a similar immigration policy towards Mexicans:
Many Americans have become enamored of the European approach to immigration -- perhaps without realizing it. Guest workers, penalties, sanctions and deportation are all a part of Europe's mode of dealing with immigrants. The results of this approach have been on display recently in France, where rioting migrant youths again burned cars last week. Across Europe one sees disaffected, alienated immigrants, ripe for radicalism. The immigrant communities deserve their fair share of blame for this, but there's a cycle at work. European societies exclude the immigrants, who become alienated and reject their societies. One puzzle about post-Sept. 11 America is that it has not had a subsequent terror attack -- not even a small backpack bomb in a movie theater -- while there have been dozens in Europe. My own explanation is that American immigrant communities, even Arab and Muslim ones, are not very radicalized. (Even if such an attack does take place, the fact that 4 1/2 years have gone by without one provides some proof of this contention.) Compared with every other country in the world, America does immigration superbly. Do we really want to junk that for the French approach?
He concludes that immigrants must
have some hope, some reasonable path to becoming Americans. Otherwise we are sending a signal that there are groups of people who are somehow unfit to be Americans, that these newcomers are not really welcome and that what we want are workers, not potential citizens. And we will end up with immigrants who have similarly cold feelings about America.
Our related posts: "Europe's angry Muslims" are considered a risk to US security and Europe could learn from America how to succesfully integrate immigrants.

Our reader Fuchur pointed out Zakaria fails to recognize the changes in Germany's immigraton policies. Besides he points out that there have not been "dozens" of terrorist attacks contrary to Zakaria's claims. Read his comment. Fuchur has written the criticism of Zakaria, we at Atlantic Review failed to do. Sorry! Thank you, Fuchur! A new post about immigration shortly.